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Atelier in Ottawa


mkayahara
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I walked by the space for Atelier today and read the sign in the window. Looks like they still have a lot of renovations to do, with a target opening date of "Summer 2008." Does anyone know anything about this venture? It seems a little ambitious for the Ottawa market, but I'll be eager to see how it goes!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Marc Lepine is going to be doing some modern things. HEs going to be using allot of technology that will leave less of a ecological footprint. I hear its going to be tasting menu only as well. He's had the past 5 months off after his last job at courtyard restaurant so I imagine hes got quite a few interesting things to show the dining public.

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First, thank you for your interest in Atelier. We do still have a fair amount of renovation to do, inside and outside. We more or less gutted the entire space, including the kitchen. Atelier will indeed be a tasting menu restaurant, serving a 12-course menu every night to every guest. I think people often underestimate the dining public in Ottawa, who, from my experience, are very well educated and enthusiastic about new and exciting culinary happenings. We will be serving 'New Canadian' food, based on more efficient and more exciting culinary technique and technology. The world of gastronomy has never changed so quickly as it has in the past 5 years, and we would like to reflect that in our food, wine, and service.

Marc Lepine

Atelier Restaurant

Ottawa

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Thanks for your reply, Chef. Any word on when the restaurant will be opening? I'm no longer an Ottawa resident, but I visit fairly frequently and would love to make a point of stopping in on my next trip in August, if you'll be up and running by then!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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mkayahara - I am not able to speculate on an opening date, unfortunately. As you may know, we had hoped to be open by now. Please check our website or facebook group for updates.

WYF - Our 12-course menu will be $75. Here is a link to our website: http://www.atelierrestaurant.ca/

Edited by Marcle Pine (log)

Marc Lepine

Atelier Restaurant

Ottawa

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I think people often underestimate the dining public in Ottawa, who, from my experience, are very well educated and enthusiastic about new and exciting culinary happenings. 

Alas, those "people" often seem to be the restaurant owners and/or chefs. I really look forward to a visit when it is open. We were looking for something new and interesting for next week and my initial reading of this thread really had my hopes up!

Ah well, back to the search.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Got a message through Facebook today: Atelier's official opening date will be November 12, and they're now accepting "both reservations and résumés." Phone is 613-321-3537.

I'm not in the industry, so I have no useful résumé to submit, but I'm sure I'd love to trail in the kitchen for a day! :biggrin:

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I was in Ottawa Sunday afternoon and stopped in for a bite to eat at Stella and then Murray Street. Noticed the Ottawa Food magazine in the latter whose cover featured Lepine with an article inside.

My server was quite interested in seeing the restaurant open.

Maybe the next time I am in Ottawa it will be open.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are some pictures of the front of the building, as it was before we moved in, and as it looks today with the changes. Things are coming together very nicely, and my staff and I are super-excited to open. There is a small amount of work still to be done on the outside, but you get the basic idea here. I told them to make the building look like Darth Vader. They got it close enough I guess.

I will post before and after pictures of the inside soon as well.

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Before we moved in

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Atelier as it looks today

Marc Lepine

Atelier Restaurant

Ottawa

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  • 4 weeks later...

As our opening date draws near, we finally have our full kitchen up and running. Here are pictures of the kitchen as it was and as it now looks.

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Our kitchen before we started the transformation

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The Atelier Anti-Kitchen

The first question people always ask when they walk into our kitchen is "where's your stove?" We call it the 'Anti-Kitchen' because there isn't really much of a kitchen there ... or so it would seem. When we began developing the idea for this restaurant several months ago, the idea was that we would be using new culinary technique and technology, which meant a very atypical kitchen set-up. We do not cook with gas. We do not have a stove. We have no grill, no deep fryer, no heat lamps, no exhaust system. All of our cooking apparatuses can be tucked into a cupboard. At the end of the night, our kitchen looks as it does in this picture. We cook with immersion circulators, single-hob induction surfaces, dehydrators, pressure cookers, heat guns, a thermomix, solar ovens, etc. The primary advantage is that these are all small and portable, and we wanted to build a kitchen that consumed far less energy than today's standard professional kitchen.

Marc Lepine

Atelier Restaurant

Ottawa

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What part of Ottawa is Atelier located in? Based on the photos, the area appears to be a residential one. Is that true?

Chef Lepine, can you give us some background on yourself and your staff?

Best of luck!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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What part of Ottawa is Atelier located in? Based on the photos, the area appears to be a residential one. Is that true?

Chef Lepine, can you give us some background on yourself and your staff?

Best of luck!

Atelier is located at 540 Rochester Street, near little Italy.

On our website (www.atelierrestaurant.ca) you can find more information on Marc and his staff in the Team section.

Sarah Allen

Chef de Cuisine

Atelier Restaurant

Edited by bella simone (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...
We do not cook with gas. We do not have a stove.  We have no grill, no deep fryer, no heat lamps, no exhaust system.  All of our cooking apparatuses can be tucked into a cupboard.  At the end of the night, our kitchen looks as it does in this picture.  We cook with immersion circulators, single-hob induction surfaces, dehydrators, pressure cookers, heat guns, a thermomix, solar ovens, etc.  The primary advantage is that these are all small and portable, and we wanted to build a kitchen that consumed far less energy than today's standard professional kitchen.

Other than space, what do you like about cooking with induction surfaces? Do you find it better or more responsive than gas?

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We do not cook with gas. We do not have a stove.  We have no grill, no deep fryer, no heat lamps, no exhaust system.   All of our cooking apparatuses can be tucked into a cupboard.  At the end of the night, our kitchen looks as it does in this picture.  We cook with immersion circulators, single-hob induction surfaces, dehydrators, pressure cookers, heat guns, a thermomix, solar ovens, etc.  The primary advantage is that these are all small and portable, and we wanted to build a kitchen that consumed far less energy than today's standard professional kitchen.

Other than space, what do you like about cooking with induction surfaces? Do you find it better or more responsive than gas?

We do find induction to be better than gas, for several reasons. One is that it is more efficient. Induction uses less energy, and the energy used is properly directed. The heat goes directly into the pan or pot. Another reason is precision. Say, of example I am cooking sugar and I want it to reach 250 degrees. I can set the burner to go to that temperature. It will show the temperature climbing and stop when it reaches the degree of heat I want.

The space thing is of course another reason, as you mentioned. During the day when we are prepping for dinner, we may not need 4 burners. So we simply take one away, and we have room for other fun toys, such as the thermomix or a pressure cooker.

Sarah Allen

Chef De Cuisine

Atelier Restaurant

Edited by bella simone (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...
Has anyone been since it opened? I will probably be in Ottawa next Saturday, so a visit to Atelier could be in the cards.

Actually, I finally had the chance to dine at Atelier last Friday with several friends, in celebration of my birthday, and had a great time. A couple of my companions had trouble finding the location, as it is relatively inconspicuous. I found the design of the space to be a little on the austere side, but that became unimportant in light of the food, the company and the welcome we received.

Several of us decided to have the wine pairings with the meal, and I was glad we did. Steve, the sommelier, was very friendly and engaging. Luckily for me, one of my friends took photos of most of the food, so I've included them below.

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The bread that evening was dill pickle. It tasted basically like dill pickle chips, but soft and chewy instead of crispy.

Wine: Trius Brut NV

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The first course was whitefish caviar with frozen vodka cream, blue potato chip and claytonia. It was billed as the "James Bond" course: sparkling wine, vodka and caviar. A nice one-bite start to wake up the palate.

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Next was an oyster from Quebec with lemon and frozen sambal oelek, with rosemary attached to the handle of the fork for aroma. I was surprised at how balanced the flavours on this were: the resiny rosemary aroma, the spiciness of the sambal oelek, the brininess of the oyster and the tartness of the lemon unfolded very nicely on the tongue (and in the nose, in the case of the rosemary).

Wine: 2006 Fattoria la Monacesca Verdicchio

This was followed by a piece of trout with a ginger-cucumber-sunchoke salsa, clementine vesicles and chive vinaigrette. No photo of this one, unfortunately. I enjoyed the textural interplay between the tender fish and the crunchy salsa.

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"Name that chowder." A perfectly velvety smooth, buttery potato chowder with test tube spoons made by Ottawa design company Wingspan. Each of the test tubes was filled with a different garnish for the soup: popcorn, chili powder, bacon and truffle oil. I'm a big fan of interactive courses like this one, and everyone else at the table seemed to have fun with it, too, passing the test tubes around to try all the different toppings. With four garnishes, I'm not sure what the restaurant does for tables of less than four...

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Sumac, foraged, liquified and frozen. Liquid nitrogen is always fun. Chef Lepine came tableside with a sumac liquid (as well as the sumac berries themselves to show us what they looked like) and made sumac "freezies" as a palate cleanser. I admit that I tried to eat mine too soon, and part of it got stuck to my tongue. It melted eventually, though.

Wine: 2006 Chateau des Charmes Gewurztraminer St. David's Bench

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One of the more dramatic platings of the evening was the "pork and beans": Braised pork belly with kidney beans, dehydrated olives, pressure-cooked black sesame seeds, egg yolk ribbon, dehydrated leeks, crabapple mayonnaise and butterscotch. Totally delicious with a variety of interesting textures.

Wine: 2006 Villa Rubini Schioppettino

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The wine with this course was clearly the sommelier's favourite for the evening, and it quickly became our favourite as well. For that matter, this unassuming little dish was also my favourite of the savoury courses: an assortment of impeccable wild mushrooms with a sunchoke puree and goat cheese gnocchi. A great example of the dictum that great ingredients don't need to be flashy.

Beer: Beau's All-Natural "Lug Tread" Lagered Ale

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Beer ice cream, pretzel crust with dipping sauces: whipped Frank's hot sauce, mustard sabayon and blue cheese "Cheez Whiz." The kitchen's sense of fun was clearly in evidence here, if it hadn't been before.

Wine: 2005 Lotus Cabernet Sauvignon, Paoletti Vineyard

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Beef tartare with Riopelle cheese, truffle, mustard, thyme, lemon foam. This was the only course of the evening that was kind of a miss for me. The lemon foam came across as too sharp, and I didn't especially enjoy the texture of the beef. The truffle slice was, of course, delicious.

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Elk with bison salami, celeriac puree, dehydrated cabbage and onion, beet cube, beet paint, brussels sprout and white carrots. This was one of the runaway hits with our table. Perfectly cooked elk with many highly tasty garnishes.

Wine: El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximenez sherry

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"Six Degrees of Bacon". On the restaurant's Facebook group, Chef Lepine describes the principle behind this course as follows:

The idea is that, because bacon appears in so many dishes, most ingredients will work with bacon, so long as they are in the presence of specific other ingredients. The compatibility of an ingredient is thus measured in bacon numbers, which represents the number of degrees of separation a food is from bacon. Bacon itself has a bacon number of 0. If a food appears in a relatively classical or well-known dish alongside bacon, then it has a bacon number of 1. Parmesan cheese, for example, has a bacon number of 1 because both Parmesan cheese and bacon appear together in Caesar Salad. Eggplant, however would have a bacon number of 2, because although it does not appear in any well-known dishes with bacon itself, it does appear with Parmesan cheese in the classic ‘eggplant Parmesan’. We would then assume that a dish that consists of bacon, eggplant, and Parmesan would be a great match. This could obviously be assumed without linking the degrees of separation, however some ingredients are not so obvious, especially when we get to the 5th or 6th degrees.

Apparently this was a re-worked version of the dish. Starting at the left and moving clockwise, we have a toasted marshmallow with graham cracker puree, chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, coffee gel with milk foam, caramel creme brulee, apple pie and, finally, bacon ice cream. Each bite led clearly to the next. I guess the only thing to do now is try bacon s'mores!

We had a brief interlude at this point in the meal for more liquid nitrogen theatrics. Because it was my birthday, pastry chef Michael Holland came out with a beautiful little piece of birthday cake for me... which he proceeded to drop into liquid nitrogen and smash into tiny little pieces.

Before:

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After:

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The regular meal then resumed.

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Gingerbread, eggnog sauce, chestnut puree, candy cane ice cream (in the shape of a candy cane, no less), cranberry sauce. A great little Christmas-themed dessert sampler plate.

Wine: 2005 Mountain Road Wine Co. Botrytis Affected Riesling

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Bubbles, grape soft meringue, cranberry firm meringue, plum poached in Champagne, clementine gel, green apple pop rocks. I'm sure I'm missing an element or two here, but this was a light, airy dish for the last course of the meal.

Finally, we were offered Elvis truffles: peanut butter and banana, which tasted every bit as good as they sound.

On the whole, it was a really enjoyable evening. The friends who were with me ran the whole gamut from veteran foodie to relative novice, and everyone found something they loved about the meal. There was enough avant-garde technique to be interesting, without it ever feeling contrived. Obviously, I was aware of the restaurant's stated mission of environmentally conscious cooking before I went in, but this approach certainly doesn't seem to place any limitations on what they can put on the plate. Where it could be felt was in the cool, quiet kitchen, which I visited after the meal. If this is one of the faces of New Canadian cuisine, Canada has a lot to look forward to! I'm sure I'll be back to see how Atelier progresses.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Well, we ate there last night. About 12 courses, with wine flight.

I really enjoyed the experience and will definitely return. The food was very interesting and varied and often gave pause for thought. A few of the dishes were truly extraordinarily good and the rest were very good and enjoyable. The wine pairings were very well done. Excellent and friendly service and atmosphere. Highly recommended if you love food.

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